After a life in his mother’s shadow, Charles III was finally crowned at age 74. This leaves him with little time to make his mark and to do more than simply hold off the Brits who prefer his son, Crown Prince William, with a much smoother profile.
The oldest monarch to accede to the throne, Charles is the heir presumptive who has waited the longest for his big date with history.
Charles III is first and foremost a very wealthy person. It has 7 palaces, 10 castles, 12 houses, 56 cottages and 14 ancient ruins. He recovered well from his divorce from Diana (which cost him 29 million CAD), but with his mother’s inheritance and his own portfolio which he has grown well, British newspapers claim that he would be billionaire. Impossible, however, to precisely quantify his fortune.
To him, therefore, the life of a castle and luxury, to him a whole court to serve him throughout his life. But to him too the unhappy childhood, the parents always absent between two royal tours, the military education imposed by a strict father as possible, the taunts on the big pages of tabloids.
Officially, Charles should have remained on the sidelines until his accession to the throne. He never resigned himself to it. In 1987 alone, he would send more than 1,000 handwritten letters stating his political views, including to British ministers, a freedom of information request revealed at the time.
To the BBC, Prince Charles will let it be known that he always knew he had a free hand as long as he was only Prince of Wales. “The idea that I’m going to carry on in exactly the same way, if I have to take over, is completely absurd,” he said. I know that being sovereign is a different exercise. »
Did he attempt, as The Crown series claims, to get his mother to pass the torch to him nearly a quarter of a century before his death? Impossible to know.
But still in 2021, another question arose. “Should Charles reign?” “, headlined squarely in the magazine Point of view, which is dedicated to royal news.
To skip the turn ? The first university graduate of the British royal family – in history, anthropology and archeology – had no intention of doing so.
Because if it is said that he was a fragile, clumsy and sensitive child, he appears, especially since the death of Diana, as someone who is determined to lead his boat as he sees fit.
Of his marriage to Diana, everything has been said. How he had always loved another (Camilla), how Diana was strongly recommended to him as a wife as a young girl of 19 years old, chaste, pure and of an aristocratic family.
According to Jonathan Dimbley’s biography (because yes, just like Diana and Harry, Charles also had a biographer friend), Prince Philip gave his son an ultimatum: either marry Diana, and quickly, or break off the relationship to save Diana any dishonor.
First crushed by her new role, bulimic and depressed, Diana will get up. And will become a star, leaving very little light to Charles, still in love with Camilla (whose great-grandmother would have been the mistress of Edward VII).
Contradictory versions circulate as to the beginnings of the affair between Charles and Camilla. Also, did they break it off through their respective marriages? In any case, they never lost sight of each other, Charles even becoming the godfather of Camilla’s son.
For twenty years, they were able to live their romance without being too worried. It is then in the spotlight that Charles will live the last act of his marriage to Diana, then their divorce.
In 1993, intimate conversations dating back to 1989 will be relayed by the media. Charles, in a playful tone, whispers to his mistress his desire to turn into a buffer to better live hidden in his pants.
The divorce of Charles and Diana will be finalized in 1996. Diana will die in 1997.
The image of the British royal family will then be seriously tainted by its apparent coldness in the face of the disappearance of “the princess of hearts”, extolled by millions of Britons.
Now the father of two orphans, Charles is free and determined to have Camilla, also divorced, accepted.
They kept a low profile until 2005, then eventually married with the more than enthusiastic tacit approval of Queen Elizabeth II.
From 2005 until Harry’s marriage to American Meghan Markle, Charles lived through a rare period of family calm. He will become a grandfather, restore his image, highlight the success of the charities he launched in 2016.
The great work of his life will however be marred by various suspicions of conflicts of interest, the Sunday Times revealing a system of dismissals by which honorary titles have been awarded to generous donors to the prince’s foundation. A Saudi businessman, according to the daily, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire after donating $2.5 million. (The bin Laden family also reportedly donated $1.7 million.)
In his first speech as King, Charles would declare: “As the Queen herself has done with such devotion, I also swear, so long as God will lend me life, to uphold the constitutional principles which are at the heart of our nation. »
Since his accession to the throne – in the midst of an economic crisis – Charles III has wanted to project the image of a king who is tightening his belt. Guests will be limited in number. Already, residences have been taken away from relatives – from his brother Andrew, who is tainted by allegations of pedophilia, and from his son Harry, who regularly empties his heart.
In the heart as in the heart – with Camilla by his side – Charles’s destiny has finally been fulfilled, but family disputes and the economic context suggest a turbulent reign.
Mistress for decades of the heir to the British Crown, long hated by the British who have dedicated a quasi-cult to Diana, Camilla Parker Bowles, at the age of 75, will be officially crowned queen according to the express wish – and in extremis – of Elizabeth II.
It didn’t come easily, even though she married Prince Charles 17 years ago.
Because to avoid offending those who had never digested the affair of Charles and Camilla, it was understood that when he acceded to the throne, she would simply become princess consort.
The consecration came from Queen Elizabeth II, just a year before her death. In 2022, she publicly stated “her sincere wish that Camilla bear the title of queen consort when the time is right”.
On the coronation invitation card, the word “consort”, which is normally used in royal communications, is skipped. Camilla is squarely identified as the queen.
This recognition thus formalized the redemption of a woman with an unparalleled shell, who had been demonized and disadvantageously compared to Diana for decades.
“No one can say anything that can affect our family,” his son, Tom Parker, Bowles, told the English daily The Times in 2017. My mother is shielded. »
In 2022, in an interview with Vogue magazine when she was still a simple Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla will also launch: “I have been scrutinized for so long that I have had no choice but to learn to live with it. . Nobody likes to be constantly observed and criticized… but there comes a time when we rise and we manage to deal with all that. You have to live your life. »
Queen of self-mockery she is. To the Vogue photographer, she said, “Sorry you had to photograph an old bat this morning. »
Her idea of a perfect day?
In this, she has not chosen the right husband. Because now, at the age when others aspire just as much to a peaceful retirement, here they are, respectively king and queen, on the throne, together.
According to a survey conducted by Yougov in Britain, Camilla is now liked by 39% of respondents; 26% dislike it and 29% say they are neutral.
A score significantly lower than that of William and Kate – those who will succeed Charles and Camilla – but which testifies to a certain return to favor that some would never have thought possible.
Especially not after the shock interview obtained (falsely) by the BBC in 1995, during which Diana launched about her marriage: “There were three of us. It was a lot of people. »
Diana will tragically die two years later.
For the record, in 2005, Queen Elizabeth II did not attend the civil wedding of Charles and Camilla, a “simple and family” ceremony, according to the Palace, in which only 30 guests participated, including the former -husband (reputed to be very fickle) of Camilla.
In the family photo (combined): Harry and William, the sons of Charles, the children of Camilla, Laura (antique dealer) and Tom Parker Bowles (food critic and author).
In this historic shot, the wounds seemed to have been healed. Prince Harry assured him, calling Camilla a “wonderful woman” who makes his father very happy.
“William and I really like her and we get on really well with her. »
In 2023, in his biography The Substitute, Harry will however write to have begged his father, Charles, not to marry Camilla.
Conversely, little by little, over the years, Camilla conquered for good her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth.
Carefully avoiding any missteps, multiplying official commitments, she became an invested godmother of dozens of associations – aid for victims of sexual violence, animal welfare, etc.
Five times a grandmother, Camilla will never respond to criticism and attacks from the tabloids, making her mother-in-law’s credo the queen her own.
Never explain, never complain: this is how Camilla became queen.
Ironically, Queen Elizabeth II granted Camilla the title of queen consort, while her husband always remained a simple prince. It is that the protocol of the English Crown does not provide for the attribution of the title of king to the husband of a queen who accedes to the throne. In the case of the coronation of a woman, her husband will never be considered a king, but other titles will be granted to him. Thus, Prince Philip was also Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron of Greenwich.
July 16, 1947: Birth of Camilla Rosemary Shand in an aristocratic environment
1970: Year in which Charles and Camilla would have met for the first time.
July 4, 1973: Marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles
1974 and 1978: Birth of his son, then of his daughter
July 29, 1981: Marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer
December 9, 1992: Princess Diana and Prince Charles announce their separation.
January 11, 1993: Intimate conversations between Charles and Camilla are made public by British tabloids. This is the “Camillagate” affair.
January 10, 1995: Camilla divorces Andrew Parker Bowles
August 28, 1996: Charles and Diana divorce
August 31, 1997: The Princess of Wales dies in a car accident in Paris.
January 29, 1999: Charles and Camilla’s first public appearance, in London
April 9, 2005: Wedding of Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
September 8, 2022: Camilla becomes queen consort.